Frank Cadogan Cowper

British, 1877 - 1958


34 pictures

Click image to learn more about each picture, or send as a free e-card

View SlideshowPages: Previous 1 2 3 Next 
Elizabeth, Daughter of Major General F V...  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Elizabeth, Daughter of Major General F V...
Fair Rosamund and Eleanor  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Fair Rosamund and Eleanor
Francis of Assisi and the Heavenly Melody...  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Francis of Assisi and the Heavenly Melody...
Hamlet - The churchyard scene  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Hamlet - The churchyard scene
How the Devil, Disguised  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
How the Devil, Disguised
La Belle Dame sans Merci  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
La Belle Dame sans Merci
La Belle Dame Sans Merci  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
La Belle Dame Sans Merci  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
Lancelot Slays the Caitiff Knight Sir Tarquin...  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Lancelot Slays the Caitiff Knight Sir Tarquin...
Lucretia Borgia Reigns in the Vatican in...  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Lucretia Borgia Reigns in the Vatican in...
Mariana in the South  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Mariana in the South
Molly, Duchess of Nona  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Molly, Duchess of Nona
Mrs. Albert S. Kerry  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Mrs. Albert S. Kerry
Our Lady of the Fruits of the Earth  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Our Lady of the Fruits of the Earth
Pamela, Daughter of Lieut.-Col. M. F. Halford...  by Frank Cadogan Cowper
Pamela, Daughter of Lieut.-Col. M. F. Halford...
Pages: Previous 1 2 3 Next 


Sometimes referred to as 'the Last Pre-Raphaelite', Frank Cadogan Cowper was born in Wicken, Northamptonshire in 1877, son of Frank Cowper, an author who specialised in writing yachting novels. Grandson of the Rector of Wicken and raised in the faith of the Plymouth Brethren, young Frank had a strict religious upbringing, something which would have a profound, though unexpected influence upon his artistic career many years later.

He was educated at Cranleigh, before going on to study art, first at St John's Wood Art School in 1896 and then at the Royal Academy Schools from 1897-1902. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1899 and two years later had his first critical success there with An Aristocrat answering the Summons to Execution, Paris 1791. In 1902 Cadogan Cowper spent six months in the studio of the successful American artist Edwin Austin Abbey in Fairford, Gloucestershire, before travelling to Italy to continue his studies. This intense, but varied art education paid off; in 1904 he became an Associate of the Royal Watercolour Society, in 1907 an Associate of the Royal Academy and in 1911 a full member of the RWS. A fascination with the early works of Rossetti and Millais is evident in his St Agnes in prison receiving the "shining white garment", a picture that was purchased for the Tate Gallery with funds from the Chantrey Bequest. As well as excelling as a painter in both the mediums of oils and watercolours, Cadogan Cowper was equally proficient as a book illustrator, contributing to Sir Sidney Lee's The Imperial Shakespeare, an edition which included works by Dicksee, Rackham and Brangwyn. The attention to historical detail in his works ensured a commission for the mural scheme in the Houses of Parliament in 1910 along with fellow 'Neo-Pre-Raphaelites' Byam Shaw, Ernest Board and Henry Arthur Payne, upon the recommendation of his mentor E A Abbey. Cadogan Cowper also befriended the ageing Pre-Raphaelite painter Arthur Hughes and they had a mutual admiration of each other's work. A second Chantrey Bequest picture Lucretia Borgia reigns in the Vatican in the absence of Pope Alexander VI was purchased for the Tate Gallery in 1914, illustrating a little known episode from Renaissance times. In this, and in other canvases, the artist often explored religious subjects with a humourous slant, sometimes verging on the blasphemous - a theme which continued throughout his career. In spite of this, he received a commission to paint an altarpiece for Godalming Church, with support from Sir Ninian Comper and the widow of G F Watts.

By the 1920s the market for meticulously painted literary and historical scenes was in decline, although Cadogan Cowper's career as a portrait painter continued to flourish. He regularly submitted portraits, predominantly of young society ladies, to the Royal Academy summer exhibitions, but by the time he was elected RA in 1934, modern taste had little time or consideration for his painting style or subject matter. Fortunately patrons like Evelyn Waugh and the Wills family of Misarden ensured that his subject pictures found their way to appreciative homes. He moved to Guernsey at the beginning of World War II, although he was back living in Fairford, Gloucestershire by the end of the war. He moved again in 1951, setting up studio in Cirencester, and regardless of current trends, carried on producing and exhibiting his Pre-Raphaelite style paintings with increased regularity. The following year his painting of A jealous husband having disguised himself as a Priest, heard his own wife's confession caused a bit of a scandal, and was not the first time that the Roman Catholic church had voiced disapproval of one of his Royal Academy paintings. He continued to exhibit, nevertheless, right up until his death at the age of 81 in 1958. At his studio sale in Cirencester shortly after his death, canvases were offered 'Suitable for reuse', so unappreciated was his art. And as a final insult, the Goldalming Church altar triptych was dismantled and sold to a buyer from the USA in 1964.

In more recent years, however, Cadogan Cowper's popularity is once again in the ascendant. His diploma work Vanity (1907) recently graced the front cover of the Royal Academy Magazine. The Cathedral scene from “Faust” – Margaret tormented by the evil spirit (1919) sold at auction for over £100,000 in the year 2000. The gallant knights and tragic maidens that populate his pictures now mesmerize a new younger audience who can fully appreciate the true worth of Frank Cadogan Cowper's art.

Biography by Scott Thomas Buckle
7 VIII 05


The Art Journal (1905)
Cadogan Cowper's painting of 'Molly, Duchess of Nona' is reproduced in colour in the 1905 edition of The Art Journal (pp.348-349), along with some biographical information about the painter:

"Mr. F. Cadogan Cowper, whose ‘Molly’ was one of the admired drawings at the extraordinarily successful summer exhibition of the Old Water-Colour Society, has rapidly come to the fore. Still well under thirty, he got his earliest art training in the St. John’s Wood Schools, passing in 1897 to those of the Royal Academy, where for five years he studied. By invitation he was for six months in the studio of Mr. Abbey, and afterwards sojourned for a time in Italy. He has been an exhibitor at Burlington House since 1899, and in 1901 his picture of a Paris aristocrat answering to the summons of execution in 1793 was hung on the line, his ‘Hamlet’ (the churchyard scene) of the following year being bought by the Queensland Government for the Brisbane National Gallery. In the spring of 1904 he was elected an associate of the Old Water-Colour Society, and this year the Chantrey Bequest purchased his ‘St. Agnes in Prison.’ This ‘St. Agnes’ is among the works which cause him to be ranked as a prominent neo-Preraphaelite."

Read the Pall Mall Magazine article about Frank Cadogan Cowper, originally published in 1908.


The Damsel of the Lake Poster
Prints & Posters  
Our Lady of the Fruits of the Earth, Cadogan Cowper
Prints & Posters  
Vanity, Cadogan Cowper
Prints & Posters  
Venetian Ladies Listening to the Serenade, Cadogan Cowper
Prints & Posters  
The Last Romantics: The Romantic Tradition in British Art : Burne-Jones to Stanley Spencer

View all prints & books »


ask a question